Anna has already garnered happy blurbs and reviews, and I agree with what authors and book people have said so far. You DON'T want to miss out on Etienne St. Clair, the laugh out loud humor, or the characters. Oh, how I fell in love with these characters, especially Anna, Etienne, and Mer. The writing, character depth, imagery, and the honesty with which Stephanie Perkins handled *mature content should make this novel literary, but then there are so many fun parts that had me belly laughing and reading out loud to my husband. I've never read a book that made me laugh and ache for the characters of a story the way this one did.
To better acquaint you with the author (because, seriously, Steph is a riot), I asked her some questions. My questions are still in black, but I've colored her answers blue. :o)
How long have you had blue stripes in your hair, and is there a story behind them?
Two and a half years! There's not a story-story behind them, but they arrived in my life during a time in which I found myself asking on a daily basis, "If not now, then when?" Blue hair was something I'd long admired (Clementine in Eternal Sunshine, Billie Joe Armstrong in the Dookie days, Gwen Stefani), but redheads (my natural color) are so DEFINED by their hair, that I was too afraid to change it for years. But one day it hit me: it's just hair. It'll grow back.
Not surprisingly, this "If not now, then when?" period was the same time I finished my first full-length novel, which was Anna. Perhaps I can chalk everything up to a mid-twenties life crisis.
How many years did you spend researching HBM (Hot British Males) to come up with THE BOY?
Oh, man. How much do I love this question?
I suppose my interest in HBM . . . exploded in early high school, during the two years in which the only music I listened to was The Beatles. "Obsessed" does not properly do justice to how I felt about them. It turned me into an Anglophile, and after that, there was no looking back. I have watched a LOT of BBC programming.
Étienne St. Clair was a surprise. He came to me in a dream — French name, English accent, American school — and I was extremely thrown that this FRENCH thing had been tossed in! Why on Earth was I dreaming about FRANCE? I'm pretty sure my subconscious gave him an English accent, because it knew I would have dismissed the dream without it. But he arrived fully formed, and the story grew organically from what I knew about him, so . . . yeah. My years of HBM research had finally paid off!
What is your favorite place in Paris?
THE WHOLE CITY. I have happy memories in all of the neighborhoods! But it's probably a tie between two places featured in Anna — the Panthéon, because that's where my idea for the story began (THE BOY was sitting on the steps), and Point Zéro (a star that marks the center of France), because that's what tied everything together. Both places have become rather spiritual for me. But the *coolest* places in Paris are Père Lachaise, a gigantic crazy beautiful cemetery, and the catacombs. One made it into Anna, and the other is in Book Three.
Your favorite food?
To keep with the Parisian theme, banana Nutella street crêpes! Delicious melty goodness.
And (since I'm giving away copies of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and PARANORMALCY) how did you become critique partners with Kiersten White?
We met after I signed with my agent, Kate Schafer Testerman. Kate keeps a fantastic blog [http://ktliterary.com/daphne/] and had announced me as a new client. Kiersten followed Kate's link, and my "I have an agent!" post made her laugh. She commented and made ME laugh, and we probably commented back and forth on each other's blogs a dozen times in the first day or two of knowing each other. Dozens (now thousands) of emails rapidly followed, and it was just one of those instant, easy friendships. I'm often reminded of this really sweet White Stripes song in which Jack sings, "I can tell that we are going to be friends."
It was like that. We could tell.
Being critique partners followed naturally. I feel lucky that I met her while she was working on Paranormalcy, because it's such a hilarious, romantic, special story! The bulk of Anna was done — it was waiting for my editor's touch — so Kiersten's influence has been greatest on my second novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. There is absolutely no way I would have finished it without her.
We work well together, because our writing styles are complementary. Kiersten is the fastest, smartest thinker I know. She writes novels quickly, and she's a great plotter. I'm nitpicky and detail-oriented. It takes me a long time to write a good draft. So Kiersten is great at moving my stories forward, and I'm good at building her stories up.
My husband has joked that one day I'll get a tattoo of her name. He's not that far off.
Thanks for such awesome questions!! It's ALWAYS a pleasure talking to you, Myrna.
Thanks for answering my questions, Steph, and for writing such an amazing book! You can learn more about Stephanie Perkins at her website. I've been fan-girling her blog for a few years now; the girl, she makes me laugh, and I love her taste in music, movies, art, and books.
And now for the giveaway part: one lucky commenter will win pre-orders for ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, by Stephanie Perkins and PARANORMALCY, by Kiersten White.
I will also throw in one of these lovely ANNA bookmarks,
a jar of Nutella, something pink and/or sparkly to go with Kiersten's book, and GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT, by Shelley Moore Thomas, because it's a great book, and I'd rather pay for another great book than shipping.
The contest is open until Midnight PST on Thursday, July 15th. I'll post the winner on Friday. You don't have to be a follower to enter, but do let me know in the comments. Also, I'll throw in three extra entries to commenters who leave a link to their blog post, FB, or Twitter about this contest (for as many links as you leave for me to check out). Capiche? Yes, I know that's the wrong language, but Mer would approve.
Thanks for reading my very long recommendation/fan-girly-gushing. I love finding books that make me want to gush. I'll be posting Kiersten's interview next week, but she has a great blog post up today, if you'd like to know more about her.
*I'm squeamish about swearing and well, anything that would give a movie a Restricted rating. If you know me, you know this already. When I say mature content, I don't mean offensive content; I mean realistic content. Steph's book doesn't skirt around the way teenagers interact with each other or the consequences of the characters' actions. I liked that. I also liked that I didn't have to feel guilty or dirty about reading it.